Chinese graduates delay career dreams, take temporary government jobs

Author: Ellen Zhang and Marius Zaharia

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – After graduating, Peter Liu failed to land his dream job at a Chinese internet company and ended up getting a job at a state library where he was barely needed participation, so he spent his time studying. His career path changed.

“It’s really hard to find a job in a big company,” said the 24-year-old, who majored in television production at a university in Beijing before moving back to his hometown in the central province of Henan.

Liu got the librarian position after a government-led campaign to get temporary jobs for graduates, which analysts say is a short-term way to maintain social stability at a time when the economy is slowing and there are few opportunities for China’s young people. solution.

Such positions, known as “welfare positions” in China, include receptionists, office administrators, security and community workers, etc. Various government agencies offer such positions every year, but they usually recruit from disadvantaged groups, such as the elderly, senior citizens, etc. disabled.

Graduates and economists say even remote rural jobs are facing stiff competition this year from young Chinese with diplomas from top universities amid a deepening youth unemployment crisis in the world’s second-largest economy.

Analysts say the government sees employment as key to placating China’s most pessimistic generation in decades, with graduates gaining even limited work experience benefiting their future employers if the economy recovers.

The one- to three-year contracts pay roughly the region’s minimum wage, typically 2,000 to 3,000 yuan ($275 to $412) a month, sometimes including free meals – well below what they pay for their first job. The average expected salary is RMB 10,000, according to a survey by Chinese recruitment company Liepin.

A separate plan to provide 1 million internships this year has attracted participation from state-owned and private companies.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security did not respond to requests for comment on government programs or the job market, but told state media last week that youth employment was improving.

Last year, China eased regulatory burdens on technology, real estate and financial companies, which have traditionally been big recruiters of talent. But state media editorials also encouraged young graduates to take up less skilled jobs.

On Wednesday, the Office for Statistics was expected to omit the release of youth unemployment data for the fourth month in a row, having suspended publication in July after hitting a record 21.3% in June, just as 11.6 million new graduates entered the job market.

The total number of short-term jobs and internships is still unknown, but social media posts commenting on the selection process and discussing career options are common, and analysts expect such positions to be popular amid a slowing economy.

Still, economists say the state sector – which provides one-fifth of China’s urban jobs – can only temporarily ease the financial pressure on some college graduates through such campaigns, warning that youth unemployment remains a problem. A major long-standing headache for Beijing.

“Youth unemployment will plague us for a long time, at least for five to ten years,” said Wang Jun, chief economist at Huatai Asset Management, adding that temporary employment positions are “a stable and stable short-term solution.” Plan Plan”. Alleviating social conflicts caused by unemployment. “

China had high youth unemployment in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as educated youth returned to cities after working on the farmlands under Mao Zedong, and in the late 1990s, when China began shrinking its inefficient state-owned conglomerates.

A 23-year-old graduate named Chen said she beat out more than a dozen applicants for a secretarial job at a local agricultural center in the southwestern city of Chongqing in August.

“The gap between my dream and reality is huge,” said Chen, who wants to be a teacher.

Both Chen and Liu are using their spare time at work to prepare for the highly competitive 2024 civil service exams, which attracted a record 2.6 million people to sign up, according to state media reports. If they pass, they will start on the path to one of the most coveted careers in China, often referred to as the “Iron Bowl” of financial stability.

Liu never imagined a career in the public sector, but now he’s at least happy to have taken the opportunity.

“I don’t want my parents to see me sitting at home doing nothing all day long,” Liu said.

(1 USD = 7.2851 RMB)

(Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Graphics by Kripa Jayaram and Ellen Zhang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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